NauMai September 2021
The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) warns that an escalating shortage of registered nurses is placing the not-for-profit aged-residential-care sector under huge pressure.
Nurses are leaving community/not-for-profit providers in unprecedented numbers for a range of reasons, says the NZCCSS. Reasons include acute housing shortages, the high cost of housing in urban areas and higher pay and opportunities with DHBs. It is estimated there are currently 900 registered nurse vacancies across the aged-residential-care sector which usually employs 5,000 registered nurses.
NZCCSS says that with the likelihood of DHB nurses receiving ‘a well-deserved increased pay package, it has been urging the Government to review its investment in the aged-care sector but with little success’.
NZCCSS says across the sector there are 15 aged-residential-care sites that have either closed beds or turned away admissions due to shortages of registered nurses. Eighty-two sites have experienced challenges maintaining ‘safe’ staffing levels and 860 registered nurses have resigned since 1 March, 2021. Sixty per cent of these are going to DHB public hospitals where they can expect to receive a significantly higher pay package.
NZCCSS Executive Officer, Nikki Hurst, says ‘too often, when we talk about residential aged care, it is the large, commercial, and profitable, service providers that come to mind. Instead NZCCSS is speaking for the not-for-profit and community-based providers for whom the ability to keep their facilities running is becoming an impossible mission’.
‘The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) pay-equity settlement will see only DHB nurses receive improved conditions. Excluded are 20,000 of the country’s more than 56,000 registered nurses. Even without the latest NZNO pay claim, nurses in the not-for-profit sector receive around $10,000 a year less than their DHB counterparts. After the NZNO settlement, that gap could extend to $25,000 plus,’ she said.
‘We know our nurses need and deserve more. And we want our older people to receive the best care possible. To achieve this we will need Treasury to fund parity for all registered nurses; urgent international recruitment of nurses, including bonding to areas of need; and state-sponsored scholarships to qualify our existing international nurses to meet New Zealand Nursing Council standards.
‘New Zealanders’ access to not-for-profit Aged Residential Care is reaching breaking point. Our members are calling for a clear plan from Government and it is vital that Government responds now.’